New Delhi: Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have shown interest in giving sites for Russian atomic power reactors after protests made it impossible to have these plants at the initially-allocated site of Haripur in West Bengal, government sources have said. The positive response from the two states has come as a respite for the government which had approached Kerala and Odisha, apart from West Bengal for possible nuclear plant sites. These states had, however, expressed reluctance in providing sites.
The site selection committee had allocated the Haripur site to Russians to build nuclear power reactors. But the project could not take off due to stiff resistance from the locals, backed by political parties. In 2011, Rosatom, the Russian counterpart of India’s Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), asked India for an alternate site. During President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India in December last year, Russia – which wants to build 12 more nuclear power reactors – had again pressed India on the issue.
The government started working on it and approached the coastal states that do not have any nuclear power reactor and started discussions with West Bengal, Odisha and Kerala governments. “These states are not keen to have any nuclear site,” said a senior government official. The government has, however, found some respite as Karnataka, a Congress ruling state, and Andhra Pradesh, which is being ruled by NDA’s alliance partner – the TDP, have shown interest in the project.
Water is an important element before setting up a nuclear power plant, which is why the DAE is looking for a site on the coast and not in the hinterland.
There are some power plants in central and northern India including in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan but they are of less than 1000 MW capacity. Since water acts as a coolant for nuclear reactors and being scarce, large amount of water is only possible to be pumped in from the sea.
DAE has already ruled out Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu as all these states have two or more nuclear sites and there was no possibility to have additional plants. This leaves Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka where one each site has been allocated for nuclear power plants. They can have one more such plant, the officials said. The Centre has already marked Kovvada as a site to build a nuclear plant in Andhra Pradesh with the assistance of American company GE Hitachi.
Similarly, Karnataka, another coastal state has four PHWR reactors of 220 MW each at Kaiga. “More importantly, these states have shown interest in giving a site for building reactors. It all depends on who gives the land,” said a senior government official.